Michigan State University: Where things stand 6 months after mass shooting

A look at the untold stories of ER doctors, security changes, more

It’s been six months since a gunman walked onto campus at Michigan State University and killed three students, injured five more, and terrorized an entire community.

The East Lansing community has been rebuilding since Arielle Anderson, Alexandria Verner and Brian Fraser were shot and killed the night of Feb. 13. The gunman, who later killed himself the same night, fired at students in two on-campus buildings.

Now, months later, four of the five students injured in the shooting have been released from the hospital. One student, who has been undergoing rehabilitation and physical therapy following a brain injury, is expecting to go home soon -- though he has a long road of recovery ahead.

Just recently, the university announced that classes and exams won’t be held on the one-year anniversary of the tragic shooting. Plans are also underway to create a permanent memorial on campus to remember the victims.

Rather than rehash everything that happened that terrible day, we want to look at where things stand today as students prepare to return to campus for the fall semester. You can watch Christy’s entire special in the video player above -- but here’s a look at what’s included:

Untold stories of Lansing ER doctors

When a tragic situation like this happens, it can take a lot of time for people to process the trauma and devastation, and to come to terms with how quickly things can change.

For emergency room doctors and first responders, that trauma is part of their training -- but an experience like this really never leaves you.

Local 4 reporter Nick Monacelli sat down with three prominent health care providers from Sparrow Hospital in Lansing who were treating young victims on the night of the shooting. And what happened at the hospital that night was truly a storm within a storm.

Waves of victims and their families came into the hospital the night of Feb. 13, and there were many health care providers who came in on their own to care for the victims. While they were working hard inside the hospital, they had to block out what was happening outside.

In the early stages of it all, the shooter remained on the loose. It took hours before the shooter was found, and Sparrow Hospital is only about two miles from MSU’s campus, worrying staff about their safety. But leadership said they had to block out their concerns and just focus on treating those who were hurt.

Amid all the chaos, Sparrow estimates that 100 extra health care providers came in to help that night without being called. Those at the hospital say it’s that same group of people helping each other to heal months after the traumatic event.

  • Watch the video report above to hear what Sparrow’s ER nurse manager, chief medical officer, and trauma medical director had to say about that night, and how they’re still healing from it.

Safety measures on campus today

The shootings at MSU had campuses all across the country looking at their safety measures to make sure they were up to date and in line.

Local 4′s crime and safety expert Darnell Blackburn, a former police officer who even served at MSU, joins us to talk about security measures on college and university campuses.

One of the biggest concerns these institutions have to face is: how to secure a large body of people. Even the smallest institutions have a significant number of people on campus that they must take into account.

Most campuses, like MSU’s, are open, and that creates a huge challenge for institutions working to keep themselves secure. It’s difficult to have a plan in place to prevent such a tragedy from happening on an open campus because there are just so many access points, Darnell says.

Following the shooting, MSU has been installing locks inside of classrooms, and they’re restricting access at certain points and in certain buildings depending on the time of day.

Elsewhere, campuses are now conducting drills, like active shooter drills or threat assessment drills, following the shooting. Some institutions are even offering body language classes to students in an effort to potentially help them spot something that might be awry.

But, this is the world we’re living in now; always assessing potential threats around us in open society.

  • Hear everything Darnell had to say in the video report up above.

Healing continues

We do have some encouraging news about one of the shooting victims still in recovery: Nate Statly, a junior at MSU who was shot on Feb. 13, is doing better and is expected to come home from an inpatient rehab center soon, according to his family.

Statly’s family has filed a lawsuit against the university in the wake of the shootings, alleging the institution was negligent. In fact, families of seven of the eight victims have filed some sort of suit against MSU.

In response, the university did put out a statement, saying, in part, that they’re heartbroken over the tragic loss of life, and that they’re going to continue working with the families and those impacted by the shootings.

The university now has $2 million in its Spartan Strong Fund, thanks to donations after the shootings. Officials say $1 million of that money will go directly to the students and faculty impacted by the tragedy, especially the injured students.

Officials expect to use hundreds of thousands of dollars from the fund to reimburse people for mental health services, to build a memorial on campus, and to support healing and resilience programming for staff, students, and first responders.

  • Hear a special message from MSU’s own Tom Izzo in the video report up above.

About the Author:

Christy McDonald is an Emmy-Award winning TV anchor and journalist who has covered news in Detroit and Michigan for 25 years before joining WDIV in 2022.